Struck by Lightning (The Carson Phillips Journal) by Chris Colfer

15789823Book Synopsis:
Published November 20th 2012 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
272 pages | goodreads-badge-add-black-38px
Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.

Book Review: 4 stars black 1/2

“You’ve got to show the world who you are before it tells you.”
Carson Phillips | Struck by Lightning

Every so often a book comes a long and it changes the way you see the world. Or you relate so heavily to it that this overwhelming gladness settles where you begin to appreciate that others out there actually get you. And to have that feeling sweep over you is surreal. It sheds light on your personality and allows your darkest most inner thoughts to surface and be analysed.  Struck by Lightning is one of those such books. And I loved it.

Carson Phillips has his future planned. He’ll leave the small town of Clover without a glance in the rear view mirror. Carson sees the world around him in a rather subjective light that is wittingly judgemental but at times just spot on. He speaks his mind in a rather brutally honest way after so many years of being repressed by the cliches that are found in high school. Whilst avidly trying to get into the college of his dreams he ends up blackmailing the elite in his school to boost his application.

Colfer has created a highly relatable protagonist that has the maturity of someone who has lived well beyond his current years. Carson is the definition of a thinker, a pessimistic one but still. Colfer magnifies issues within society and schools in a way that subtly illustrates the errors in such systems. I am a critiquer of life, I question everything. It’s the only way that I feel I can make sense of the world around me, to define people and their actions based upon their various experiences. The human race fascinates me, but within this fascination I have found such destruction and hatred. To read about a character that shares this thought pattern was exciting and self-reflective.

I honestly feel as though this book is one that should be brought into the curriculum. Being a pre-service teacher I have seen children who don’t dream beyond the scope of their present reality, who don’t even attempt to consider a future that is theirs. Characters in this novel deal with this issue. Some are aware of their talents, or sexuality, or dreams but are repressed by societies ideals. I admire what Colfer states on this:

“In what grade do we stop believing in ourselves?” I asked. “In what grade do we stop believing, period? I mean, someone has to be a Noble Peace Prize winner. Someone has to be a ballerina. Why not us?”
Carson Phillips | Struck by Lightning

In addition to this he comments on education systems, that we aren’t helping students reach their goals. That we don’t prepare them enough for the realities of life. I found this to be true, in my own experience, and now that I am becoming a teacher I honestly see where parts of my education was gipped. To function in the real world is difficult if you have spent the last 13 years of your life rephrasing what an adult has told you to be correct. Things you learn as you experience them for sure, like how to write a check or change a tire, but people have to want to figure these things out they need that drive..and that drive has to come from somewhere right? Maybe I think too much (yes it’s true, I know I do) but at least now I know i’m not the only one. I see people everyday who don’t see themselves as being capable of more. Of course opinions are subjective and no one truly knows another person..we all have dark secrets..but I honestly think it is a fault in our race that we get stuck and don’t do anything about it.

“What grinds me the most is that we’re sending kids out into the world who don’t know how to balance a checkbook, don’t know how to apply for a loan, don’t even know how to properly fill out a job application, but because they know the quadratic formula we consider them prepared for the world?”
Carson Phillips | Struck by Lightning

Carson struggles with being in the present. He is so concerned with the future that he separates himself from reality. Thus distancing himself from embracing the high school trenches and the experiences that go with it. He creates these ideals without truly understanding the experience or problem. Carson…you are fantastic to be in the mind of.

Colfer is a marvellous writer! I have added him to my favourites list. He sees the world with a unique light and conveys this through believable characters that are snippets of people found in everyones life. What ever happened to him to write so brilliantly must have been traumatising, but it gave him the power to write this book. If I could write something that speaks to someone as strongly as this book speaks to me, i’d have reached a goal of mine.

“Life comes at you fast. It hits you and tries to escape and be expressed in any way possible. In a way, it’s a lot like…lightning.”
Carson Phillips | Struck by Lightning



3 thoughts on “Struck by Lightning (The Carson Phillips Journal) by Chris Colfer

  1. Saw this in the bookstore yesterday, and (unfortunately) I did not pick it up. I was curious though, so I’m glad to read your review of it!

    When you wrote, “It sheds light on your personality and allows your darkest most inner thoughts to surface and be analysed,” I realized that I missed out on an excellent book. I’ll have to check it out next time. Great review!

  2. I know exactly how you feel about finding that book that heavily impacts you. I’m so happy that you liked this one, I had to put it down but I think I’ll pick this one up again soon just because of how much you love it! Great review.

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